Monthly Archives: October 2015

Say What?!

When people hear I’m a Christian, they look at me funny. They say, “You seem smarter than that!”

They ask if I believe in the virgin birth and I say I’m certain Jesus was.

They ask if I believe if Jesus rose from the dead, and again I reassure them indeed he has.

They ask many things, and I’m sure of each answer I give. I’m sure of virgin birth because as symbolized not only in the Greek and Jewish traditions, wisdom was certainly born from truth, and I see it in Christ’s message. And, each time I act on my thoughts of that truth, that way, I experience Christ in the fullness of my life and, he is then risen, risen indeed.

Of course with that, many simply demand literalism and I have to ask them, why? Can you act any differently or would you, if Christ wasn’t the son of God; can or should you find more or less meaning from Christ’s message if he wasn’t ontologically God; do we need to think that the walking on water is the point of anything but that in the storms of life, when there is no real footing at all, focusing on what matters will keep us from drowning?

There are so many things to believe, but very few can even have answers, and the only ones we can answer are those we can act on and see their fruits; wisdom, born into the world through truth, resurrected and salvaged anytime we don’t forget the way.

Just a thought.

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More Than A Feelin’ …

An interesting corollary seems to be between the meaning of belief and the meaning of faith.

It seems James, the brother of Jesus, has full agreement with nearly the whole of modern epistemology.

Those like Peirce, Russell, Quine, Rorty and hosts of others assert that the truest sense of what belief entails in all contexts is behavior; that belief can only genuinely be said to exist when we act from what it supposes.

In the very same way, it makes no sense to pedestal Sola Fide, as Calvinistic thinkers glean from Pauline literature, because as James too says, in James 14-18:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Whether we’re having a conversation about belief or faith in God or belief and faith in the safety rating of our cars, it has no sense in saying either exist or are worth a thing unless we actually move to act on them.

As it concerns Christian dogmatic peculiarities such as Predestination, Double Predestination, Dispensationalism, Mariology, Second Works Of Grace, “Once Saved, Always Saved”, or the Trinity itself, exactly what do they matter if it turns out that in fact, they have nothing in themselves we can act upon? It is in these that we find nothing important to believe at all related to Jesus, the Christ. As a matter of history alone, their only true import is that these ideas bound together a group of believers seeking to find meaning in Christ under those views; and they are many.

As it concerns the Atheist, whatever in life you choose to believe, learn from our Christian, mistaken totemic conflations and simply ask of your beliefs, “Are these worth acting on?” I think at that point, we’d all find a large accord in this existential sensibility of what is true, rather than Fregean sense of propositional truth-values. We ourselves would reject anything as being false, no matter what it is, if we found no good in acting on our beliefs and what they ask us to suppose.

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I am not a Christian because of something about the Bible. I am a Christian because should there be a God, there’s a reason we exist. If there is no God, there is a reason we exist.

The best way I can exist is to be fully human. So, it’s something about me, and something said about Jesus long ago. I understand whatever I do about Jesus because it resonates with my humanity.

When I embrace the good, I embrace God. When I embody the good, Christ lives. When I do the good, I embrace humanity.

I couldn’t care less about Paul. I couldn’t care less about any particular passage of scripture that could obscure the above.

It wouldn’t be that I’m cherry-picking, because the Bible is not an idol I defend and, there’s horrible shit in it. I have found among it’s trash, something good.

I hope as I lift it out, I am lifting myself out of the same; a solidarity and an emancipatory between us; me, what I think of Christ, and what I believe about others.

Wherever you too see the good, do the same.

To me, that’s Christianity; not something about a God but something between a man and myself.

Johannine literature has Jesus as a man to whom life, figurative and literal, was given and that he shared.

It seems to me and others, that a paradigm is created in which “Jesus is Lord [not Caesar]” is a way of living and its fruits have no season because it is always now, the kingdom of heaven. It is not a rule over man but a vision and game plan we can all enjoin. Caesar is one way, and Jesus is another. Two trees once more in our own private gardens, right in the middle of it. Free not to engage, death is outside it because fullness of the human experience cannot obtain aside from love.

If we say each of us knows that to be true, it is because no matter who we are, a sense of love resonates and discord is the fruit of all else.

If Christianity were a choice, then it would be this one, a rhetorical one: Which kind of experience do you want for yourself and others?

Knowing the answer, Jesus merely shows us what the one looks like, and how to find that way of being within ourselves first, and from there all things good flow into to world; we are “Christ in the world”. And once more, “he is risen”.

Resurrection, not needing to be literal or fictional, has become irrelevant in all ways except that I myself, once dead, have risen and “Christ lives in me”.

All of this to me is great metaphor. Where it is literally true is in whether or not the life described by Christ finds you resurrected as you seek it and live it out.

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Manner And Mode

“Numinous”, comes from the Latin, “numen”, and likely from the Greek, “pneuma”, and each stands to represent God’s intent and presence/power/spirit on Earth.

Very relatable are Cicero’s remarks on “Divine Mind” (numen) and John’s Gospel’s opening remarks being a completely Greek Theology of Jesus. The “Word” is Cicero’s numen of Divine will and intent, and the “Way” isn’t a gatekeeper from Galilee, but that a man like no other has embodied God’s intent for humanity, how we all ought to be. Jesus is the “Way” (Manner, Strong’s 3598, ὁδός, οῦ, ἡ Hodos) we all “ought to be” (Truth, Strong’s 225, ἀλήθεια, ας, ἡ Alétheia), and the life (Mode, Strong’s 2222, ζωὴ Zoe) as God intended for us all, all along (Mind, Strong’s 3056, λόγος, ου, ὁ Logos).

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What Are We Thinking!

Reason is just thinking. Logic is a formal description of how we think. Most of Christian thought is Philosophy. You have to ask how we can distinguish between “God murmurs” and “my thinking” and I don’t think we can. That’s an unimportant “problem” anyway.

Why we accept something as true is because it is the most reasonable thing to believe. It doesn’t matter whether we say our understanding is from ourselves or from God because regardless of source, it will either be the most reasonable thing to say and believe or it won’t; this incidentally is what makes any murmuring objective at all.

The sources for Theology are History, literature including scripture, Philosophy, experience and so on. Reasoning is simply what we do when accounting for all the facts we uncover.

The problem stated by theologians like Aquinas, McCabe, Geisler and so on is that we have no concept of God and our apprehension rather than comprehension of God forces all our language and ideas to be anthropomorphic. And while there may be a God, none of this can be said to have God as the referent and the truest referent is us.

The classic view has been the same in all three Abrahamic faiths. Named, they are participatory pedagogy (Judaism), fitrah (Islam), and natural theory (Christianity). Each philosophically have as predicate that all thought including the farthest abstractions, are contingent to “place”; who we are and where, who we’ve been and when, and who we want to become.

The consequence is that while God isn’t a necessary conclusion, it is absolutely certain that we have the idea of God because reality brings it to mind. Now, there may be a God and this is how He planned it, or there may be no God and we’re simply highly anthropomorphic, but in all cases, we create God in our own image. We cannot know an incomprehensible God, nor can we conceive of what that God would entail.

That’s not a heresy or much argued in Theology. The solution, if this is a troubling statement, is that we are icons of God and through our likeness to God, the evolving images we create of God, which are comprehensible, will coincide more or less but more so as we continue to understand ourselves.

Being drawn to the good, as Dante suggests, is being drawn to God who is the good and the resonance in why we’re drawn aesthetically, morally, and in our thinking, our reasoning, is because we are like the God who created us in some way. We can understand God only in the sense we understand ourselves and to that extent, and only to the extent we are similar to God. As Schillebeeckx reminds as others do, it is participation in the good which transforms us and then reveals in us our nature, and in faith, we name the good, “God”.

From that, the most reasonable view of sin is indeed that it is “anything which prevents human flourishing”. However, a more open view is suggesting sin is “anything not of faith” where faith is only the engagement and participation in the good, the doing of it; nothing to do with beliefs being central, where beliefs only matter in that they can be better or worse than others in helping us get into and understand what we’re doing and experiencing.

What does atonement look like then? Well, Irenaeus’ Recapitulation and Abelard’s Moral Influence and believing Jesus in the myriad places in scripture where he says he didn’t come to judge but save us from it (ie that kind of thinking, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil).

Of course there are reasons to adopt this view and reasons not to. This is why Christian theology from the onset has been and continues to be developmental and communal. Development of course being fully accounted for in the ideas of participatory pedagogy, fitrah, and natural theory … and why so many theories of atonement, soteriology, eschatology, and christology exist.

We can only really say there is only one shared belief in Christianity, as Rashdall does in “The Idea Of Atonement In Christian Theology”. That belief is that Christ atones. The second thing to note is that no one knows how. The consequence isn’t that we can say one idea is true or false compared to another since all are based on scripture. The consequence is that we acknowledge that inerrancy is a moot point since we all interpret what’s written even if it were, and too, authority is only a communal term for the groups that form together having a shared particular view, and the same is true of the beliefs that bind them together.

All we can say from within each group is whether or not our kind of community is bearing fruit, is representative of the good we all seek.

Should we say that, no, there is a fundamental set of beliefs that must equate to “Christian”, we do two things. We elevate our ignorance rather than reason over these obvious facts of the matter and make belief rather than the message of Christ as what matters. Second, we would in saying some, any, community engaged in the good is not Christian; not by fruit but by creed. This is the so-called “unforgivable sin” because it is a denial of the Holy Spirit itself through which God works in drawing us all to Him. This very much includes folks who do not profess, know, or even reject what they’ve been told about Christ.

On infallibility, we can say that because God is revealed in the good we can understand, for which the Holy Spirit is at work in any person who seeks it, the message of the Gospel is precisely infallible because as through Adam there is judgment for all, there is salvation from it for all, despite our creeds that make judgment central to it; since it is for all and found only in participation with the good rather than alignment with certain beliefs, which is a mistaken predicate. Infallible because God’s plan justly unfolds in everyone’s lives through revelation of the good despite our literally ignorant human belief systems. Infallibility in spite of human ignorance and poor reasoning merely because love, an experience of the good, does win after all no matter what label we affix to ourselves.

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When taken to the analytical end, what a Presuppositional Apologist is saying is that they suppose a god exists and those supposing otherwise are wrong merely because they say so; based on further supposing reason and logic are exactly what they are not. For to have objectively justified beliefs entails exactly objectively justified beliefs independent of other beliefs. So to say that if we begin by having objectively justified beliefs upon which more beliefs will emerge is not to say we presuppose belief rather than infer and build from justified beliefs. It is precisely to say “I suppose given all I do know, from all I am justified in thinking true, this new idea comes from it but is yet to likewise be justified.” And so, the Presuppositionalist merely fiats their case without justification at all in a very cavalier whimsy of what they would call “good reasoning” which no rational thinker could accept as reasoning at all, were they to think it all through. What is presupposed is that one wants to believe what is true, which is to not presume a single thing to start with so that inquiry is free from all other bias but the one. Presuppositionalism is then tantamount to saying that we simply take what we believe as true and the justification is that we want to believe it.

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People like different kinds of paintings ranging from Impressionism, to Pointillism, to Photorealism. And in Art, the more a work resembles a Clee versus a Baeder, the less seriously people in general take it as Art. People’s images of God are much the same way only in the inverse, which is an irony; a God with no mystery is surreal and a God that has too much has too little paint on the canvas to find any meaning in at all.

In both, the realism is not real and all that matters about either are the impressions both leave us with and with both, we have to realize “it’s just Art”.

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